Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper played in every major rugby stadium in the world from the cathedral of Twickenham in London to Auckland’s hostile Eden Park during his career as a Wallaby.
Nowhere has wowed him as a new-age venue more than SoFi Stadium on Tuesday’s late afternoon visit with the LA Giltinis.
Saturday’s match at SoFi Stadium against the Utah Warriors from 7pm (PT) will be a special occasion that Ashley-Cooper and eager Giltinis’ fans never expected.
“It’s already a treat to play at a stadium with the history, playing surface and feel of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum so I absolutely dip my hat to team management because I don’t know how they have pulled off a game at SoFi Stadium,” Ashley-Cooper (below right) said.
“The experience alone of doing a tour of the stadium was incredible. It has a 70,000 capacity but it feels like 170,000 with eight to 10 levels.
“Those penthouse level suites…you can drive in and park your car outside them. That’s only the style of high-flyers like Matt Giteau post-rugby.”
Ashley-Cooper played his 121 Tests for the Wallabies at nearly 40 stadiums in 12 countries.
He played at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, won seven times at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, scored a hat-trick of tries at Twickenham in a 2015 World Cup semi-final and loved the fast feel of Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
“Players have their favourite stadiums. I never lost a Test at Millennium Stadium, the Wallabies had a wonderful run of five Tests at Twickenham at the 2015 World Cup and playing at the Coliseum has been a real experience,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“SoFi Stadium is a stadium on steroids. It’s certainly entered my top five stadiums and I’m still to play there.
“The first professional team to play there in front of fans, it’s rugby and it’s us…that’s pretty special.
“As a start-up club, it feels like every step for the Giltinis is a part of history.”
A limited number of tickets are on sale at www.giltinis.com/tickets/ OR at Ticketmaster.com
The Giltinis didn’t just shrug off their first loss to Rugby United New York last weekend. It spurred a blunt team review to learn valuable lessons.
“It was a very honest team meeting to go over that game,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“There was a lot of concentrated focus at our next training session.”
Cleaning up the 10 turnovers and 20 missed tackles that hurt against RUNY are major areas to tidy up as well as cranking up the speed of the game against the Warriors.
(vs Rugby United New York)
Ball carries: Adam Ashe 11, Lindsey Stephens 10
Running Metres: Ryan James 79, DTH van der Merwe 77, John Ryberg 67
Tackles: Nathan Den Hoedt 19, John Ryberg 16, Lindsey Stephens 15
Tackle Busts: John Ryberg 5, DTH van der Merwe 3
Line Breaks: Ryan James 2
Ruck/Maul arrivals: Nathan Den Hoedt 27, Adam Ashley-Cooper 23, Blake Rogers 17
Top Try-scorers (season): DTH van de Merwe 8, Angus Cottrell 7, Harrison Goddard 6
Courtesy: Stats Perform
DID YOU KNOW
Giltinis flyhalf Luke Carty is the younger brother of Jack Carty, who played 10 Tests for Ireland in 2019 including his start at No.10 in the ill-fated loss to Japan at the Rugby World Cup.
Glenn Bryce – Fullback (ankle)
Christian Poidevin – Flanker (collarbone)
Luke White – Lock (hamstring)
Seru Vularika – Centre (hamstring)
Marco Fepulea’i – Prop (knee)
Jeff Peleseuma – Five-eighth (foot)
Sione Tuihalamaka – Prop (tricep)
The Giltinis are at home to play the Utah Warriors at SoFi Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on Bally Sports SoCal in Los Angeles from 7pm (PT) on Saturday and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.